The reason I love essays more than poetry, reviews, short stories, and brick sized mega-novels is that an essay is a place to play with ideas. Of course, this is not exclusive to the form of the essay. In fact, my favorite poems, stories, reviews, and novels all accomplish this one way or another. For examples of this let me humbly suggest two recent reads: X Marks The Dress by Kristina Marie Darling and Carol Guess (Gold Wake Press 2014) and Linh Dinh’s Blood and Soap: stories (Seven Stories Press 2004). Darling and Guess explore ideas of gender and relationships while Dinh explores identity and language among other ideas. As a writer, I strive for this: play with ideas.

Recently I had an essay published in Twisted Vine. I had so much fun writing this particular essay, “Handism,” because it was entirely play with an idea. In my years as a Sociology student, I was struck by Peggy McIntosh’s essay White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Handism was inspired by McIntosh’s musings.

Twisted Vine Art by Timothy Tang


As I became more invested in writing, I sought out writers who pushed the bounds of what essays could be. While “Handism” was inspired by McIntosh, I wrote it for Dinty Moore, the father of Brevity and a master of creative non-fiction. I submitted this piece to Moore and to any contest Moore was judging and any journal who espoused praise for his sharp style, sense of humor, and tact. “Handism” was universally rejected. Did Moore himself read my essay and personally detest it? It’s likely that some other writer, a student, an intern, vetted my piece away before it fell on Moore’s desk. If Moore had to read this piece multiple times, due to my persistence to get it into his hands, let me apologize for that. 

Recently Brevity posted an essay about rejection, reflection, and revision. In Wooing Brevity, Sandra Gail Lambert spoke about how difficult it was to get into Brevity and how long she worked at this accomplishment. I’m taking it as a token, from Dinty Moore to me. 

I suppose it’s not very smart to share failures, but I think it’s nice to remember how thankless writing is–for all writers at some point in their career. I am very proud of “Handism” and of it’s home in the Twisted Vine. I hope many readers chance upon it and enjoy it.